The Trouser Game – Meet Bradley Townsend

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In the week or so since he’d received the letter from atop the silver tray which his butler, Bingham, had ceremoniously held out to him on that fated morning, Bradley must have read it three thousand times. Assured that his memory had thoroughly absorbed every word, he refolded it and placed it in the inside pocket of his waistcoat as he disembarked at dockside in Liverpool, England.

The first order of business was to find a decent inn where he could wash the sea salt from his skin, gorge himself on a civilized meal that didn’t involve fish and get an absurd amount of sleep on a large, soft bed. Then he planned to set out via rail to find the feisty, midnight-blue-eyed, brunette enigma that had cost him several nights of lost sleep and an innumerable sum of cockstands which demanded his not so tender attention.

Regardless of his newly appointed position on the board of directors at Oberlin and the agreement he had yet to sign pertaining to a teaching position there, he needed this holiday. And if it included Miss Kelley and the delights of her person, then he’d be a very happy tourist.

Just then, a young boy held up a fistful of different colored ribbons for Bradley’s perusal. “A pretty for your girl, sir? Each only a ha-penny.”

The lad was thin, his skin pale, at least, in places where one could see through the soot smeared across his face. Bradley’s heart went out to the boy. It was likely that the ribbons were stolen, but he was certain that the child was only selling them to avoid the workhouse.

“How much for all of them?”

“A-all?” the lad stammered.

He smiled. “Tell you what. I haven’t had a chance to change my money yet, but here are two silver pieces.” They swapped the goods for the coins. “Now, go on home and give these directly to your mother. Understand?”

Shoving his hand deep into his pocket, he replied, “I shall, sir. Me ma’s gonna cry for joy when I give ‘er these.”

The boy ran off and as Bradley watched him go, he wished he could do more. But he hadn’t brought all that much money with him to begin with.

Bradley sighed. He hadn’t really thought about what the outcome of this impromptu journey should be. Whatever the case, he wouldn’t go home without some sort of closure. He was owed at least that much.

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Until next time —

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